You may have done your best to prevent a broken bone caused by osteoporosis. Or maybe you didn't even know your bones were at risk. Either way, your fracture can heal, and you can work closely with your doctor to avoid it ever happening again.
If you're one of the 34 million Americans (women and men) who are at risk for the disease, you know that strengthening and protecting your bones is crucial. Osteoporosis means porous bones that weaken and can fracture with even minor incidents.
Some 55% of people 50 and older have osteoporosis or reduced bone mass. But "you can live with osteoporosis for a long, long time and never have complications such as fractures -- if you take certain precautions," says Felicia Cosman, MD, osteoporosis expert...
Falls and bumps that wouldn't hurt a person with healthy bones can damage them when you have osteoporosis. Doctors call these injuries low trauma or fragility fractures. If you fall from standing height and break a bone, for example, you'll need treatment for this type of injury.
Some fractures can heal on their own, depending on which bone is broken and how severe the break.
When you need further treatment your doctor may refer you on to specialists such as:
An orthopedic doctor, who can help cast and repair your broken bone.
A physiatrist, who treats nerve, muscle, and bone problems that affect how you move.
A physical therapist or occupational therapist, who show you exercises and other ways to recover and resume your regular activities.
Fractures can hurt for a while, especially if you've broken a hip or a vertebra in your spine, called a compression fracture. You may need medicine for the pain. Ask your doctor to review everything you take, too, even if you didn't need a prescription for it or if it's "natural." That way you doctor can check on any possible side effects, like dizziness that could put you at risk for a fall.
Healing Your Spine
In some cases, you'll only need rest, pain medicine, exercises, and perhaps a back brace or treatment for muscle spasms while you're healing. A brace keeps your spine stable while the broken bone heals.
If your pain persists and is severe, your doctor may see if you're a candidate for:
Vertebroplasty. The doctor injects bone cement into the spine to keep it stable. This lessens pain, and it can also help prevent further fractures of the vertebrae and a curved spine.
Kyphoplasty. A doctor inserts a balloon device into the fractured vertebra. This helps restore the height and shape of the vertebra. Once removed, the device leaves a small cavity that is then filled with special bone cement.
If your doctor recommends either procedure, talk with them about the risks, benefits, and recovery time.